It’s been nearly 20 years since the plastic shopping bag was idolized in the Oscar-winning film American Beauty. In the picture, weed-dealing teenager Ricky Fitts records a video of one floating in the wind and calls it “the most beautiful thing” he had ever filmed.
But in 2018, New York City’s chief elected official isn’t hearing any of that shit. On Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted his support of an op-ed from the Times, which called for the city to ban plastic bags altogether.
We need to ban plastic bags — the time for debate on this is over. They're bad for the environment, they're bad for the economy, they're bad for New York. The state is behind the curve here, it's time to put our planet first. https://t.co/8xMJlG3Q3F— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) March 4, 2018
The mayor’s crusade against New Yorkers’ widespread use of plastic shopping bags is nothing new. In 2016, he signed a City Council bill that would impose a five cent fee on any disposable retail bags. The measure was umbrellaed under De Blasio’s OneNYC plan, which included the lofty goal of making New York a zero waste city by 2030, a far cry from its current trash-ridden state.
But just months later, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that blocked the city’s bag fee and instead commissioned a study to provide recommendations on alternate bag-restricting legislation. The results of that study were released in January but provided no real recommendations or solutions.
Now, De Blasio is back on the plastic bag warpath, but this time things are different. He has no re-election campaign to worry about, and—if he so chooses—could burn all of his political capital on a bag ban without fear of being booted from office. If he’s successful, expect to see a whole lot more Strand tote bags dangling off shoulders throughout the city.